How to File for Bankruptcy in Washington
The process of filing for bankruptcy in Washington requires a great deal of preparation and planning. Most people make the decision to work with a bankruptcy attorney when filing a bankruptcy petition in the state of Washington. The first thing to know is that the bankruptcy laws within the state closely follow the federal bankruptcy laws that are in place. In addition, there are some local rules and requirements that must be given attention.
Where does a person start when it comes to filing for bankruptcy in Washington? The first thing to know is that every debtor must decide which form of bankruptcy is appropriate for their situation. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy across the board. This form of bankruptcy allows for unpaid debts to be discharged if it is proven that a debtor has no way of paying them. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is another common form of bankruptcy. This form of bankruptcy is appropriate when a debtor has debts that can be paid off over time using a structured payment plan. While Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the two most common forms of bankruptcy, they are not the only options that are available to debtors. There is an option called Chapter 12 bankruptcy that is available to fishermen and farmers. A form of bankruptcy called Chapter 11 bankruptcy is something that is open to some people with large debt amounts or debts that are related to business expenses.
Important Steps in Washington's Bankruptcy Process
There are several steps that all debtors must take as they navigate through the bankruptcy system in the state of Washington. One of these steps is credit counseling. In fact, a credit counseling course must be completed at some point during the six months leading up to actually filing for bankruptcy in Washington. This course must be taken through a provider that is approved in the state of Washington. The official list of approved providers can be accessed here. It is also necessary to complete a debtor education course during the bankruptcy process. The official list of approved providers for this course can be accessed here.
Debtors must also be prepared to submit something called a means test to the court. A means test is used to determine each person's legal eligibility for bankruptcy. It is necessary to submit detailed financial information as part of a means test. This can include things like records regarding income, assets, liabilities and more. Another mandatory step in the bankruptcy process is attendance at a meeting of creditors. This meeting is arranged by the court. It provides creditors with the opportunity to prove that a debtor possesses nonexempt assets or object to the terms of a payment plan.
The bankruptcy process for a debtor in Washington cannot formally begin until that debtor submits a bankruptcy petition to the court. The filing of a petition activates an automatic stay. This automatic stay instantly prevents all creditors from contacting a debtor or taking steps to collect unpaid debts.
Learning More About the Bankruptcy Court in Washington
The bankruptcy court in Washington is divided between the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Washington and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Washington has locations in Spokane and Yakima. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington has locations in Seattle and Tacoma. The fee when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $335. The fee when filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $310. A complete list of the fees that a person can anticipate when filing for bankruptcy in Washington can be found here. The forms that a person would use when filing for bankruptcy in Washington can be found here and here.